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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Friends,
about ten years ago I bought this OP. It is not bad and it was cheap. And it was marked in a strange and "handmade" way on the butt: USAAF. I (now) know what USAAF means. The Archive Letter says nothing of the military... but the date is special. 5 days before... you know.
Have a look! Has anyone ever seen something like this? Could it be for real????

Peter
Rugby ball Wood Hardwood Ball Metal
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Firearm Gun Revolver Trigger Gun accessory
 

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....
The Archive Letter says nothing of the military... but the date is special. 5 days before... you know.
Could it be for real????
Yes, it could be, but unfortunately you’ll never know.

The marking is obviously not “official”, but that doesn’t mean some local base armorer or other USAAF member didn’t feel a need to apply it. But it could just as well have been a faker after the war. It’s definitely old.

What works in its favor is the date. It was likely in the store’s inventory when the US Government stopped civilian gun sales by executive order some time shortly after Pearl Harbor, and existing stocks especially of service-type guns like this were subject to involuntary sale to Uncle Sam. But that’s impossible to document for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, it could be, but unfortunately you’ll never know.

The marking is obviously not “official”, but that doesn’t mean some local base armorer or other USAAF member didn’t feel a need to apply it. But it could just as well have been a faker after the war. It’s definitely old.

What works in its favor is the date. It was likely in the store’s inventory when the US Government stopped civilian gun sales by executive order some time shortly after Pearl Harbor, and existing stocks especially of service-type guns like this were subject to involuntary sale to Uncle Sam. But that’s impossible to document for you.
Thank you very much, Absalom,
that sounds very possible.
Do you know how these handguns changed from the stores inventory to the army. Did they "buy" these guns???
 

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Getting the bureaucratic mess of emergency procurements after Dec. 7 sorted out is not easy. Charles Pate in his book makes a valiant effort, but it is still not entirely clear to me how a specific retailer with a bunch of .38 Colt revolvers, which were much in demand by that time, would have transferred his inventory to the government, and whether somebody tracked the dealers down or this was based on voluntary compliance.

Apparently, both Army Ordnance and the Defense Supplies Corporation had warehouses as collection points, and also tried to order directly from the factories, and there are some documents in the book showing friction due to the resulting competition, for guns which especially Colt had continuous trouble actually manufacturing in a timely manner.

Your gun probably missed going to an official destination by just about a week; a DSC chronology in the book shows the DSC ordering the first batch of 2500 of the Official Police from Colt on Dec. 11.
 

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The "frozen firearms policy" was issued in February, 1942 as limitation order L-60. The text was as follows:

Dealers and wholesalers who have shotguns, pistols, and rifles in stock have been ordered to report to the Government on their inventories of such fire-arms, many of which will be bought by the Government through the Defense Supplies Corporation. Forms PD-382 and PD-383 have been sent to them for this purpose.

Sales of firearms have been restricted by the WPB in Limitation Order L-60, issued on February 27, except for sales for State, local, and Federal Government use, to Allied Governments, or for Lend-Lease purposes. Information on other permitted exceptions should be secured from the Governmental Requirements Bureau, which is administering the order.

Official of the Bureau said that as soon as the report forms are tabulated, steps will be taken to unfreeze the stocks which the Government does not need. Meanwhile, users such as war plants may ask the Governmental Requirements Bureau for permission to buy arms.


In May, this order was lifted. Note that the order was to allow the Government to purchase guns suitable for domestic use (defense plant guards and LEOs) by the DSC. In other words, they were not looking to purchase guns for issuance to military personnel.
 

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If the revolver actually served in the AAF it could ha been obtained through local purchase order or been a personal purchase by a service member.
 

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I lean towards Snidley’s answer; bought by someone going to war or for someone already in the Air Corps. At sometime during WWII the Army Air Corps began calling themselves, Air Force. It wasn’t until 1947 that the USAF was created (on paper) since despite the name USAAF they were the USAF.
 

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I lean towards Snidley’s answer; bought by someone going to war or for someone already in the Air Corps. At sometime during WWII the Army Air Corps began calling themselves, Air Force. It wasn’t until 1947 that the USAF was created (on paper) since despite the name USAAF they were the USAF.
The US Army Air Corps officially became the Army Air Forces in mid-1941, so by the time this gun might have entered service, the USAAF was already current.

Given the overall quite nice condition of the gun in terms of very little finish and wood wear, I think it highly unlikely this gun spent four years at war. If the marking should indeed be service-related, it was more likely associated with an Air Force or mixed-use military-industrial facility stateside, which would also fit better with a DSC procurement along the lines of Kevin's post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The US Army Air Corps officially became the Army Air Forces in mid-1941, so by the time this gun might have entered service, the USAAF was already current.
The "Wehrmacht" and the British Army marked everything they got - broad arrow and WAA-stamp....(even things they never used). Was it common for arms bought by the US Army not to be marked with some kind of "official" sign like the "flaming bomb"?
Peter
 

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Has anyone seen that type of marking on the butt????
Not me. The OP was never official issue to the Army Air Force, and this marking seems definitely to be an individualistic creation. This type of what I think is crude acid-etching was not very often used; the universal standard, if a roll stamp was not used, were individually die-struck letters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Not me. The OP was never official issue to the Army Air Force, and this marking seems definitely to be an individualistic creation. This type of what I think is crude acid-etching was not very often used; the universal standard, if a roll stamp was not used, were individually die-struck letters.
I think it was an electric engraver... usually used when marking tools.
 

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OK, I'll weigh in. Yes, the US military marked items that were made, on contract for them. A US and flaming bomb usually. Several other acceptance stamps in other places on wood and metal. But items pulled from civilian production, sometimes all-ready at their retail stores, were not always marked with US acceptance stamps.

There is precedence in electric pencil use by the military. When the US entered the war, we did not have enough sniper rifles. Before the first battles at Guadalcanal the military started demanding sniper rifles be sent, quickly. We didn't have any scopes to put on them, the military had forgotten about scopes after the first world war. So the military decided to re-purpose a civilian scope, the Weaver 330. Many were retrieved from hardware and gun stores and sent to Remington where the old 03A3 was being converted to a sniper rifle. They were marked with an electro-pencil with the serial number of the rifle they were put on.
 

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Could it be that the Revolver was loaded and unloaded quite a bit but not fired very often????

Has anyone seen that type of marking on the butt????
Back in the late 50s I was a courier in an MI battalion in Germany. I made two courier flights a week and was issued a Colt revolver for the trips, I don't know what model it was because I wasn't into such things in those days. I would go to the arms room the morning of my flight and be issued the Colt and six rounds of ammo, I always carried it loaded of course, when I got back I would return all the stuff to the arms room, so yes that gun was loaded a lot and never fired.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don’t agree. Electro-pencilling looks quite different. In your photo, one can actually see the hardened bubbles.
This is tricky... I am really not sure... when I look at the real gun on my desk it looks like electro pencilling... and when I look at the picture I have to admit I see those tiny bubbles. I have never seen such a crude acid etching.The 5 letters look to me like someone just wrote them with an electro pencil. I took another picture, please look again. How is acid etching done in such a place?
Peter
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I vote for electro-pencil markings on the revolver, done by a very unskilled operator. The electro pencil was not easy to use as you had to start moving it the moment it drew an arc, and keep moving it with it trying to skate around. The revolver marking shows the typical arc marking as well as the spot where the arc was broken.

Shown below is a 1903 Springfield Armory National Match rifle, which had the bolt serial numbered to the rifle with an electro-pencil. While the operator that applied the serial number was skilled at using the electro-pencil, he still had problems. On each number you can see where he broke the arc by one or several marks left where the arc blew a tiny crater when broken.

 
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